Eaton finds the edge in pursuit of decathlon supremacy

Wed Apr 27, 2016 9:05am EDT
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Olympic decathlon champion and world record holder Ashton Eaton is gearing up for a title defense at the Rio Games, but figures to swallow some humble pie along the way.

As part of his build-up to the U.S. Olympic trials in July, Eaton has entered the Ostrava Golden Spike meet on May 20, where he will line up in the 100 meters alongside six-times Olympic gold medal sprinter and world record holder Usain Bolt.

"It's obvious that I'm going to get completely dusted," Eaton told Reuters while promoting the "Thank You, Mom," TV ad campaign by Olympic sponsor Proctor & Gamble on Tuesday.

"But what I hope to get out of that is to learn a little something. Whenever I compete against elite athletes I always learn something by osmosis, and also just have a little fun and maybe I run faster because I'm running with fast people.

"And I can just really get to see how much faster they are than me. I've always wondered."

That is not to be interpreted as a lack of confidence by Eaton, who broke his own decathlon world record to defend his crown at the 2015 world championships in Beijing. He also set the indoor heptathlon world record in 2012.

Eaton said he weighed whether to pursue football or track as a means of snaring a college scholarship when decathlon "chose me," when a University of Oregon coach thought his athletic skills were suited to the arduous, 10-event test.

"For the physical aspect, I'm very fast and I would say powerful," he said.   Continued...

Gold medalist Ashton Eaton of the U.S. reacts after winning the men's heptathlon at the IAAF World Indoor Athletics Championships in Portland, Oregon March 19, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson